fun with texas statistics, bent by the weight of a few drops, antebellum capital and labor

One blogger went to a lot of trouble to make the Texas economy not look quite as bad as some statical analysis has otherwise made it look. Those interested can wade through his graphs and analysis at the link. He says he is not a Perry fan and is simply trying to find the truth behind the numbers. I would have otherwise take his analysis and his plea of unbiased statistical reporting at face value if not for this part of his conclusion – Rick Perry And Texas Job Numbers

My advice to anti-Perry advocates is this: Give up talking about Texas jobs. Texas is an incredible outlier among the states when it comes to jobs. Not only are they creating them, they’re creating ones with higher wages.

One can argue that Perry had very little to do with the job situation in Texas, but such a person should be probably prepare themselves for the consequences of that line of reasoning. If Rick Perry had nothing to do with creating jobs in Texas, than why does Obama have something to do with creating jobs anywhere? And why would someone advocate any sort of “job creating” policies if policies don’t seem to matter when it comes to the decade long governor of Texas? In short, it seems to me that this line of reasoning, in addition to sounding desperate and partisan, hogties its adherents into a position where they are simultaneously saying that government doesn’t create jobs while arguing for a set of policies where government will create jobs.

 

[  ]…I mentioned on Twitter that the Texas jobs situation was nothing short of miraculous. This is why I said that and why I’m standing by that statement.

 

He would have been better off leaving out what is posited to be a logical argument. Texas is part of the U.S. It is not an island. It has the second largest number of federal employees outside the Washington D.C. Beltway. Texas used funds from the Democrats/Obama Recovery Act to pay its bills and balance the state budget. In doing so Texas used tax money collected from every state. If Texas is creating jobs ( Texas or Perry) than that means Obama deserves at least as much credit as this blogger is willing to give Texas. In 2011 Texas benefited from $200 billion in federal spending on payroll alone. Those people bought goods and services in Texas. The state was allocated $22.8 billion in Recovery Act (stimulus funds). There are over 700 pages of Texas businesses that received federal government grants, contracts or subsidized loans. Maybe, just maybe President Obama had something to do with making Texas look a little better than it would otherwise. As that blogger makes sure to note, if government action works than we would be hypocrites not to acknowledge that, right? Another thing he did is to be somewhat dismissive of the significance of the median wage. The median is a mid-point. It is the point in the state of nation’s wage’s where half earn below that threshold and half earn above. The mean or average wage is a very deceptive measurement of wages. For example if a room of twenty people gross $18k per year(about minimum wage) and they are averaged in with just one person who grosses $500k per year that comes out to an average wage of over $42 k per person per year. The blogger notes that the Texas median wage is $15.14. The national median ( all 50 states) is $16.27. based on a 40 hour week that means half the Texas population makes less than $31,491.00 a year. Nationally the total median wage would be $33,841.60. At that wage level I wouldn’t be so dismissive of $2,350.00. Health care benefits are also worth something. They are in fact a form of wages. He does not mention the value of health care benefits at all. 26% of Texas workers do not have health insurance coverage compared to a national average of 17%. Texas is not a complete disaster, but that is some ways off from being able to claim as Perry and Texas conservatives have claimed, that the Texas economy is a “miracle”. Texas has had a fairly large net population increase due to people moving into the state. These who have low to medium skilled jobs are making a trade off. In order to have a job at all they are taking lower than average pay and those who do so without an affordable health care plan are also living on the edge of economic calamity. That blogger can stand by anything he likes that doesn’t mean he has drawn an accurate picture of the Texas economy. I would also suggest he stay away from astrophysics and qualitative chemical analysis. He could hurt someone with that tendency to dismiss small anomalies.

Those who want to play around with the stats that blogger used can go to http://www.bls.gov.

bent by the weight of a few drops

Current conservative/libertarian attitudes about the economy, wages, regulation and the role of federal government are not directly analogical to those of the Antebellum South. Though they do make arguments in their content, level of shrill hyperbole and the way the economy should be modeled. Low wages, exporting jobs, low investment in primary and secondary education, no or low fringe benefits. Some pundits have called this the ‘wage slave’ economy where half the population lives hand to mouth.  The Civil War Isn’t Tragic Cont

Crucial to the revisionist view is the idea that the American South was merely a society with slavery, as opposed to a slave society. First McPherson positions the slave system in the world economy:

Slaves were the principal form of wealth in the South–indeed in the nation as a whole. The market value of the four million slaves in 1860 was close to $3 billion–more than the value of land, of cotton, or of anything else in the slave states, and more than the amount of capital invested in manufacturing and railroads combined for the whole United States. Slave labor made it possible for the American South to grow three-quarters of the world’s marketed cotton, which in turn constituted more than half of all American exports in the antebellum era.

The slave system was not merely an economic boon. It was a means of social organization and control, the very foundation of a Southern white male free society:

“The conflict between slavery and non-slavery is a conflict for life and death,” a South Carolina commissioner told Virginians in February 1861. “The South cannot exist without African slavery.” Mississippi’s commissioner to Maryland insisted that “slavery was ordained by God and sanctioned by humanity.” If slave states remained in a Union ruled by Lincoln and his party, “the safety of the rights of the South will be entirely gone.”

 

Coates uses quotes from a book by James McPherson called “This Mighty Scourge”. The Dynamics have changed in real ways that we can take pride in. In other ways the dynamics are simply name changes. Slaves used to be both capital and labor. They were physical property that worked. Now the emphasis has shifted to the worship of capital. It above all else must be guarded like a helpless infant. Conservatives and libertarians celebrate private agents of labor repression and regression. They extol the virtues of the corporate elite. Take the always awful gov’mint out of the equation so those private interests can take over as the benevolent guardians of our rights.

skyline, clouds, dynamic range, blues, cities

in a blue mood city wallpaper

Also interesting – Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry’s Politics Betray The Teachings of Christ (”If you want to be perfect, go sell your belongings and give to the poor” (Matt. 19:21) – Something you’ll never hear from the religious Right. Related is this piece by a recovering tea nut – What I Learned in Two Years at the Tea Party

Gillian Welch – Paper Wings

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